Sexually Transmitted Diseases

If you're a teenager who's reading this, you might have a girlfriend or a boyfriend.  You've probably begun the tricky path that is dating.  They say that the greatest gift that one can give in a relationship is themselves—their heart and soul, and body.

Sharing your body with another person comes with so many risks, including STDs, or Sexually Transmitted Diseases.  This is a present you don't want to have from anyone.  These can affect everyone, so it doesn't matter if you're a goth or rich or poor or ghetto.  The unfortunate part is they're common with teens, so you'll need protection.

STDs are more than an embarrassment.  They can be a serious, long-term health problem if left untreated.  You can be unable to have a baby or die from AIDs.  So you've got to be extremely careful.

How Do STDs Spread?

STDs are spread by skin-to-skin contact with an infected part or open sore during sex.  You can still get through by having anal or oral sex because they come into the body through small cuts in those body parts, not to mention the genitals.

You can't tell if someone has an infection or not.  Most people with STDs aren't even aware that they're infected in the first place, and can easily spread the disease to other people.

How Can I Get STDs?

If you start having sex at a young age, you'll increase your chances of infection.  If you have more than one sex partner, your risk goes up.  It goes up the most with unprotected sex.  The only way to prevent STDs is to wear a condom every time you have sex.  Although contraceptives like the diaphragm, birth control pills, and IUD prevent pregnancy, they don't prevent STDs and need to be used in tandem with condoms.

Prevention

STDs are hard to handle once you get one, so prevention is key.  The first, best way is abstinence from all sexual activity.  If you're thinking about having sex, you'll need to start getting regular male genital exams, or gynecological exams.  This serves two purposes: You can learn more about STDs and sexual protection, and your doctor can check you for STDs at their earliest stage.

You'll need to tell your doctor straight away if you're thinking of having sex.  If you think you have something, don't wait: Waiting will let it get worse, and cause even more damage.  If you, or your partner, think you have an STD, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

You can find local clinics where you can get an exam done without anyone knowing.  There are STD hotlines you can call if you have questions and can give referrals to doctor.

It's possible to get symptoms which mimic STDs but aren't, even if you're a virgin.  A yeast infection in a girl is commonly confused with an STD.  There can be bumps on a penis, which are simply ingrown hairs, or pimples on a guy.  You'll always want to see your doctor if you have any questions about your sexual well being.